Today I am going to talk about the importance of language development in children. Major learning takes place during the early years of a child’s life, and being able to understand the foundations of language is a precursor for their future success.
How can you help cultivate strong language skills in a child with ASD? It is important to talk and respond to you child. Remember, they understand more than they can say! Also, it is vital you understand your child’s behavior. Take note of what your child likes and dislikes. Everyone prefers learning in ways they enjoy.
If you are struggling to stimulate language in your child with ASD you must determine what their sensory preferences are. Does your daughter dislike getting her hair washed? This could be a sign that she is over-sensitive to touch. Does your son appear not to hear you when you call his name? He could be under-sensitive to sound. It is vital that you notice the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, and movements your child desires or avoids.
In order to stimulate learning you must next figure out what type of learner your child is. There are five main types. One is a rote learner, this type of learner may memorize information and can recite it word for word, but they might not know the meaning behinds the words. Your child might also be a gestalt learner where they can memorize sentences as whole chunks, but do not understand the meaning. For example, you could tell your child “Walk to the car” and they may do it, but then if you tell them “Walk to your room” they may still walk to the car. This is because they associated “walk to...” with one specific action. Visual learners are also common, this child will learn by seeing and not hearing. Another type is the hands-on learner, which includes kids who learn best by touching things, they often loves to swing, push, and move. Finally, there are auditory learners, this is unusual, but some children with ASD enjoy talking and listening to others to learn. Observing your child and how they learn will help motivate language and communication. (More Than Words).
Children with ASD learn in unique ways, so remember to play to your child’s strengths. If they enjoy the movement of fingers, then use their fingers to introduce numbers and counting. All children love to succeed and they will with time. Therapy with a Speech Pathologist or Occupational therapist often include parent training. Working with these experts can help discover the best intervention for each individual. Placing your child in an environment filled with motivating people and items will encourage communication and future success.
Sussman, Fern and Robin Baird Lewis. More Than Words. Toronto, Ont.: Hanen Program, 2012. Print.